Hey folks, Harry here with one of the great ones. Nick Park - a god of character animation and storytelling. He's a bleeding cinematic genius with a love for clay. We're going to be getting a WALLACE & GROMIT feature film soon - and I'm jealous as hell that Sheldrake got a chance to talk with him. This is one of my most anticipated films of the year.
Sheldrake here in New York City at Lincoln Center. Dreamworks pulled out all stops today getting us into the world of animation as they do it. Jeff Katzenberg was up on stage at Alice Tully Hall, guiding us through the stuff they’re doing. We got a good look at the new Wallace and Gromit movie and later I ran into Nick Park, the director of all the Wallace and Gromit films as well as CHICKEN RUN.
Nick is the coolest guy. Very low key, endless enthusiasm and intense focus. The opposite of Sam Fell, who’s full of crazy anarchic energy…but we’ll get to him shortly. Here’s Nick and me chatting a wee bit:
SHELDRAKE: We LOVE Wallace and Gromit. Especially WRONG TROUSERS and A CLOSE SHAVE, it’s a beautiful little Hitchcock film done in stop action. Hitchcock’s a HUGE influence on you.
NICK: Yeah, I love Hitchcock movies…
SHELDRAKE: You get the TONE…
NICK: Yeah, not so much specific things, it’s more of a feel, of movies I remember from matinees and on TV.
SHELDRAKE: Hitchcock is one of the most difficult directors to get the feel of…but you do it.
NICK: Quite often people list the references in the movies, and usually I haven’t even seen the movies that they’re referencing.
SHELDRAKE: So is Gromit EVER going to speak?
NICK: Apparently he was dubbed in Finland. We had to get them to take it off.
SHELDRAKE: I love the variations on the theme you do…for instance, the waking up in the morning…
NICK: Yeah we wanted a sense of continuity between the short movies, but we wanted to show something new each time. The click we saw today—music’s not finished, needs a bit of editing…
SHELDRAKE: Well, yeah, I guess, but it already looks great: and in this we have Gromit being noodged awake by a finger poking up under the bed, set in motion by a great Rube Goldberg device…powered, of course, by the morning kettle.
NICK: So we continue with the theme, yes.
SHELDRAKE Now in the new movie, CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT, the boys set up a special agency to pursue pests. Garden pests. Rabbits, f’rinstance.
NICK: They’ve got this new business called Anti-pesto – there’s a lot more characters in this movie, and a lot of them are, really, typical horror movie characters. We looked at a lot of Universal pictures, and Hammer Studios pictures…
NICK: only the best influences need apply.
NICK: The Werewolf movies…
SHELDRAKE: I saw House of Wax last night…the new one.
NICK: Oh, how was it.
SHELDRAKE: Pretty stupendous, really. Surprisingly. The House of Wax IS a wax house. Oh! Oh! Wait! Idea!
SHELDRAKE: The next Wallace and Gromit movie! Obviously! House of CLAY!
NICK: (backing away) Uhh..yes…sure…
SHELDRAKE: Wait..where are you going? Let’s do a deal!
NICK: Anyway…I’m codirecting this movie with Steve Box. He animated the Penguin in CLOSE SHAVE.
SHELDRAKE: One of my favorites…
NICK: So, anyway, here we’re going this horror movie, and usually those are about, you know, eating little kids…eating people…
SHELDRAKE: But this is about vegetable gardens being destroyed…
NICK: Yes, it’s a vegetarian horror movie.
SHELDRAKE: Lisa Simpson alert! You take it down a notch.
NICK: All the characters are growing vegetables for the upcoming vegetable show…and you know, bunnies abound, and Wallace and Gromit are hired to catch all the bunnies…and then this terrible rabbit-beast appears and ravages… and W&G are hired--like Ghostbusters, Batman, Starsky and Hutch…it’s all those movies. They have this little van. It’s the most uncool van you could POSSIBLY drive…it’s an Austin A35, which is probably not known outside the UK. It is so uncool. I’ve actually got one myself.
SHELDRAKE: Well that’s the North England thing.
NICK: Thought we work in Bristol about a hundred miles from London – it’s become the center of stop action in England.
SHELDRAKE: We also saw a little bit today about FLUSHED AWAY…
AND IN A BIT WE’LL HAVE AN INTERVIEW WITH SAM FELL, DIRECTOR OF FLUSHED AWAY, AARDMAN’S FIRST CGI MOVIE!